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Tips on Purchasing Pallet Racks

By:  Larry Rausch – VP Sales and Marketing

Many times we hear from customers that pallet rack purchasing is a simple and easy project.  The reality is much thought is required in purchasing racking systems if you want the end product to be as efficient as possible.  This post is intended to provide facility mangager’s with the correct pathways when considering the purchase of pallet racking systems.

There is a science in the design and layout of pallet racks in a warehouse and there are different factors that have to be considered. For example, one must determine whether storage density is more important than easy access. It may seem simple, but not thinking this through in the long run can cause inefficiencies in your operation.

The Purpose of Pallet Racks

 Before going further on how to buy pallet racks, it’s important to understand what is the purpose of buying them. Pallet Racks are designed to store racks also known as skids which hold products. It goes without saying that different product lines need storing in different ways to ensure safe storage and as little wasted space as possible. So to assist you with your warehouse fit-out, expansion, or re-fit, we have compiled a list of the most widely used types of racking, along with a brief outline of their relevant features.  But first, let’s talk a bit about pallet rack components, capacity and space.

Pallet Rack Components

Beyond understanding the different types of racking systems, we think it is important to discuss the componentry that goes into these systems. Here is a list of the components of a pallet rack:

  • Upright: Vertical beams that form the walls of the pallet rack; holes or slots are designed to interface with the load beam.
  • Beams: Horizontal beams that form the shelves of the pallet rack.
  • Pallet Supports: Situated between the load beams to support pallets.
  • Wire Deck: Safety measure to prevent pallets or products on pallets from falling through the rack structure. Used for storing smaller products like boxes.
  • Foot Plates: Also known as base-plates they are located at the base of columns and serve as anchors providing more stability for the rack.
  • Shims: Are used when the uprights are going to be located on floors that might be uneven.
  • Row Spacers:  Are in most cases used when bays (uprights) are arranged in back-to-back rows.

Pallet Rack Capacity

The capacity of a pallet racking system depends on the beam spacing, height and beam dimension. For example, the higher the space between beam levels, the system will have less capacity.

Warehouse Space

The amount of space that you are planning to use pallet racking is essential on deciding how many rack systems you will need and what height.

Types of Pallet Racking Systems

 Push Back Racking

 Push Back Racking has major benefits in efficiency and accessibility. Pallets are loaded onto a series of wheeled carriers fitted along inclined guide channels, allowing the pallets to automatically drop forward when the front pallet is removed. The Push Back Racking system operates on a ‘First in, Last out’ (FILO) principle, allowing for fast and efficient packing and loading. The pallets are stored four deep, well suited to long-term bulk storage, and can be accessed by most types of forklift trucks, removing the need for specialized apparatus.

Narrow Aisle Racking

Designed to maximize floor space, Narrow Aisle Racking allows specialized forklift trucks to operate in aisles half the width in comparison to conventional racking layouts. By utilizing in-built guiding rails set at floor height, this system allows for precision movement of stock at a quick pace. The racking is height adjustable and offers access to every pallet without the need to re-arrange, adding an element of adaptability to the range.

Carton Flow Racking

Carton Flow Racking are ideal for warehouses that store and dispatch small products, parts, and components that require manual picking and packing. Carton Flow Racking uses lanes of inclined gravity rollers allowing for increased picking efficiency whereas Carton Live Storage may not use roller aisles. In both cases, cartons or boxes are loaded onto the shelves or racking from one side and automatically progress to the front ‘picking interface’ on rollers as stock is removed for packing. The roller lanes can be adjusted in terms of incline, height, and size, in order to tailor it specifically to your needs.

 Cantilever Racking

Cantilever racking utilizes a series of metal ‘arms’ to support long, heavy products including timber, pipework, or beams. This system allows products to be stored loose or on a pallet, adding an element of versatility. The arms are also available in varying strengths and can be attached to either one or both sides of the rack, allowing you to tailor the racking to your requirements. The clear benefits of this form of racking are the ability to store longer-than-standard product lines, increased weights, and relatively quick construction time.

Double Deep Racking

Double Deep Racking aims to maximize the available storage space by allowing pallets to be stored in pairs, as the name implies. This cuts the amount of wasted space on aisles down to about half. A drawback to this type of storage system can be the lack of access to all pallets, although this can be minimized by a properly implemented stock rotation and management plan. For this reason, double deep racking is best used to store large quantities of the same product.

Drive-In Racking

Drive-In Racking provides a highly space-efficient storage solution, allowing for a 60-90% increase in capacity compared to conventional racking. This form of racking is typically only accessed from one end meaning it is best suited for large quantities of one product line, or products sent out in batches. Drive-In racking systems use the ‘Last in, First Out’ (LIFO) principle.

Drive-Through Racking

Drive-Through Racking, like Drive-In Racking, is highly efficient, though as its name suggests access can be gained from both ends. Typical Drive-Through racking systems use the ‘First in, First Out’ (FIFO) principle.

 Mobile Pallet Racking

Mobile Pallet Racking is a movable form of racking. With this system, you only need to allow space for one operational aisle, increasing storage capacity by up to 80%. Another major benefit of mobile pallet racking, other than the increased capacity, is the ability to access any pallet individually, from any position. The high weight limit also means it can be used to store virtually any product. The racking is operated either manually or via electronic controls and should be fitted with sensors to ensure safe use.

 In Conclusion

Pallet racking systems are the backbone of an industrial warehouse. From understanding capacity, space and storage, to the different types of racking systems, your next pallet racking purchase will be as efficient and cost effective as possible.

We hope this post provided you helpful information as it relates to best practices in warehouse design and management. To speak with one of our technical experts, please call 1-216-229-9300. And thank you for reading our post.

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